You understand how important appearances are, and you know just how powerful clothing can be (for better or worse).
But the way you're perceived isn't just determined by what you wear. Your body language is equally powerful important.
You can't change your height, but you can control your body language, which is why I asked Communications for Nerds founder, Katrina Razavi, to outline five research-backed body language tricks shorter men can use to improve their presence.
If you've ever felt insecure in social or professional situations because of your height, pay attention, because this guide is for you.
Take it away, Katrina!
You’re rocking your new tailored suit, your monk strap shoes and wayfarer sunglasses. You’re lookin’ good.
You look good on the outside but there’s that little something that you can’t put your finger on that doesn’t feel right. You’re thinking:
- Do other people think I look good?
- Do people still notice that I’m short?
- Do they think I'm younger than I am?
- Am I good enough/tall enough/cool enough to approach that cute girl?
What if I told you there were some simple body language strategies that you can use to look powerful, confident, charismatic and mature – and actually believe it. Not some fake it til you make it” bull***.
Well there is.
I’m going to give you simple body language strategies that you can use to come off as confident, charismatic and mature.
Your swagger game is going to be so high that those around you will disregard your height or build, because they’ll be focusing on you and your presence.
You’ll have the tools to make the impression you want to make. Beyond that, these strategies affect your internal mood, making you feel more confident and powerful by a few simple body language tweaks.
These strategies can be used by anyone, regardless of your height or build. In this article, I’m going to show you:
- How to boost your confidence and become a “man of action” in 120 seconds
- Five steps to stand with perfect posture and maximize your height
- What to do with your hands during conversations and how to shake hands properly
- A subtle body language trick to become likeable, instantly
- How to figure out if your conversation has rapport
- The only thing you need to do to trigger feelings of happiness from someone (without saying a word)
Strategy #1: Power Pose to Boost Confidence in 2 Minutes
What if I told you that you could boost your confidence in just two minutes? You’d probably think I'm lying right?
Well I’m not. This Harvard study by Amy Cuddy, revealed that power posing for two minutes will increase your testosterone levels (the “dominance” hormone) and lower your cortisol levels (the stress hormone).
Subjects in the experiment were directed to adopt high power poses prior to a preparing and delivering a speech as part of a mock job interview.
As predicted, high power posers performed better and were more likely to be chosen for hire…
Subjects who power posed for two minutes were 45% more willing to take a risky bet and felt more confident compared to those in low power poses.
Here’s the thing: high power posing causes feelings of dominance, power and “action orientation”.
Contrast that with low power poses, things like shrinking of the shoulders or weak posture. Low power poses not only make you feel less confident, but they also make others perceive you as weak.
Here are some examples of the high power poses in the study. My personal favorite is the “Superman” pose where your feet are spread wide and your hands are on your hips.
Now you can do some of these poses in public, like stretching out and taking up space. But you can also do them in the privacy of a bathroom stall to give you a quick boost of confidence before heading into a social situation.
When you start an interaction off in a confident and powerful mood, your conversation partner will quickly disregard your height or build since they’ll be paying attention to your presence.
Strategy #2: A Stronger Stance in 5 Simple Steps
For men on the shorter side, posture is key. One of the best things that has ever happened to my posture has been yoga. Yoga has taught me the importance of keeping an erect back and strengthening your core.
Alright, I get it, you guys may not be crazy about jumping into the next yoga studio, so let me show you how to have good posture in five steps.
Step 1: Start by practicing erect posture while sitting down. I find that it helps me focus on my core and back rather than worrying about what’s going on in my lower body.
In a seated, Indian style position straighten your back while keeping your chin level (keeping your head and eye gaze straight ahead rather than up or down).
Step 2: Next, lightly flex your core. Imagine that you’re flexing your abs. You’ll notice that when you tighten your belly you will get a little bit of extra length in your spine.
The opposite of this would be letting your belly “lose.” Letting it loose pulls weight towards your belly, when you need to be light and tight, so keep it flexed lightly.
Step 3: Lower your shoulders. You may notice that when you straighten your back, your shoulders are moving up (closer to your neck) and are likely tense. Take a deep breath and roll your shoulders back and down so they’re relaxed.
When you relax your shoulders you look way more in control and worry less about “what do I do with my hands?” Well, you simply leave them by your side with relaxed shoulders and you won’t notice the tension of having to do something specific with them.
Now that you have a straight back, direct gaze, tight core and relaxed shoulders you’re in ideal posture.
Step 4: Hold this position for at least 30 seconds, you’ll realize that it’s probably not a position your body is used to.
Step 5: After a few rounds of this, do the same exact thing but this time stand up. Do this in intervals and do at least three rounds of this so you can start preparing your body for how it should be feeling when you are standing.
Ta dah! This is how you should always be standing.
Keeping an erect posture will help you look a little bit taller. Beyond that, good posture will make others perceive you as confident and even make yourself feel more confident.
If you pair this with a wide stance, you’ll notice you’ll be in a high power pose thus increasing your testosterone and lowering cortisol while doing it!
Strategy #3: Use your Hands Effectively
One of the most common questions I get as a communication coach is, “What do I do with my hands?!”
Your hands are an integral part of your body language. Did you know something as simple as keeping your palms up or down can massively change the dynamic of a conversation?
Let’s start with the basics:
Here are a few tips on shaking hands:
- Match the firmness of the handshake the other person is giving you.
- Before going in for the “shake” show an open, upwards palm for one or two seconds before shaking hands. This helps build trust and shows you have nothing to hide.
- When you go in for the shake, keep your hand straight (perpendicular to the ground, rather than tilted to one direction or the other).
Now, what do you do with your hands during a conversation?
As I mentioned, if your shoulders are relaxed, you will naturally just leave your arms by your side. But if you just can’t get over being awkward with your hands, you have other options:
#1: Clasp your hands behind the back. I like this because you’re keeping your chest open (by not crossing your arms)
#2: Push your fingertips together. This is especially effective if you want someone to pause and listen to you because it shows that you’re actively “thinking” or contemplating something. This body language hack will make you look more “scholarly” and mature.
In general, simply keep your shoulders relaxed and let your arms fall by your side. Practice this in the mirror if it feels awkward to you.
Strategy #4: Use Your Face
Did you know that it only takes 200 milliseconds for someone to asses your emotional state through your facial expressions?
It’s true. Your face says a lot about your feelings, we constantly make facial micro expressions that are easily noticed by those around us.
It’s a function of our evolutionary history. Our ancestors communicated nonverbally before language even existed, so they had to rely on reading people’s moods through nonverbal expressions.
So here are some ways to use your face to your advantage.
Smiling (and doing it genuinely) is a wonderful icebreaker and a way that you can spread positive vibes to those around you, thanks to mirror neurons.
Selfishly, smiling also makes you feel good. In an interesting study by Martin and Stepper, subjects were asked to place a pencil on their lips (to simulate a smile) while reading cartoons.
Subjects who had the pencil above their lips rated the comics funnier compared to their peers who were not instructed to place a pencil above their lips.
Pretty cool, huh?
When you smile, try using your eyes. Genuine smiles use more facial muscles that are displayed in the lines around your eyes.
Looking at the two pictures above, can you tell which smile is genuine and which one is fake? You can find the answer at the end of the article.
Eyes are windows to people’s souls. By starting off a conversation with a lock of the eyes for a few seconds, you exude confidence and show interest.
If you can manage to hold eye contact for a mere 30% of your conversation, you and the conversation will be more likely to be remembered.
Strategy #5: Mirroring
This is a simple, yet effective body language trick that will up your charisma game in a huge way. If you want to come across as instantly likable, then this is the strategy for you.
Have you ever noticed two people who have ridiculous chemistry? What do you see?
They are typically locked in a gaze, both smiling or both leaning in. Notice how they have similar body language to each other.
You can do this too. When you’re having a conversation with someone, simply mirror their body language cues.
You don’t want to be blatantly obvious while doing it, but following someone’s body language cues a few seconds after they make it will get you two in sync. If you’re talking to an attractive woman and she leans towards you, make a similar movement a few seconds later to match.
And beyond body language, you can also do this with other types of communicative cues. For example, if your conversation partner is slowing down their speech you can too. If they’re excited and are talking quickly, you can also match the pace of their speech to get on the same page.
Wondering if your conversation partner is feeling you? Well, once your body language is in sync, begin taking the lead and purposely changing your body language.
Are they following suit? If they are, there’s likely some rapport between you two.
If you can effectively exude confidence, charisma and likability, people will be more drawn to you and your personality rather than your physical height or build.
Although it sounds cliche, beauty truly is on the inside. The catch is that you need to use the right strategies to show off the confident, cool gentleman that you are.
Body language allows you to influence the way others feel around you while also affecting your own internal moods of power and confidence.
This article was written by Katrina Razavi, communication coach and founder of CommunicationforNerds.com.
If you liked this article, visit her site to sign up for a free three-video mini course called: How to Shut Up that Inner Voice & Beat Awkward Conversations.
It covers six secrets to social confidence, the #1 strategy to improve your life and how to have natural conversations…even if you’re super awkward.
P.S. The smile on the left was the genuine smile. Did you guess right? Let me know in the comments!